When an employee quits, offers of more money and better incentives will do little to change his or her mind.
By then it’s too late, said KPMG human resources manager Kathy Herties. To hang on to valued employees, companies need to act proactively. If employees are thinking about leaving but haven’t made the final decision, then there might still be a way to hold on to them.
But once employees hand in a resignation letter, then it’s better just to let them go.
“Once the decision is made, whatever the current employer offers, it’s almost too late. Even if they stay, they’re generally very, very vulnerable to going in six months, so generally it’s in the company’s best interest to not attempt to match” the offer, Herties said.
Joni Mines, an applications manager at the City of Edmonton, agrees.
“If they come in with a resignation letter they may have already mentally left. So you do try, but…I don’t think anyone whose ever put a resignation letter on my desk has ever stayed,” Mines said.
Still, when an employee leaves, Mines likes to find out why so that she can implement changes to prevent other employees from exiting for the same reason.
The City’s human resources department conducts exit interviews with all employees who are quitting or moving to another department. The results of the interviews are turned over to managers quarterly, or sooner if the turnover rate is really high. Employees names are withheld, as well as any comments that might help identify them. This method, which has been in use for almost a year now, is designed to make employee responses as honest as possible.
About a year ago, when the City was going through a major reorganization, the turnover rate was almost 20 per cent. During the recent quarter, however, no one quit. Mines hopes that eventually the City will be able to use the exit interviews to help map out trends and find out which methods and managers are more effective.
But if unhappy employees come to her before they quit, Mines tries to find ways to meet their needs and address their concerns, even if it means moving them to another department. The important thing is to hang on to the person if possible.
“It’s just devastating for a corporation (when a valued employee quits). And it’s not really the technical skill (that matters), it’s more the business side of it. In one month last year, we lost three DBAs, and they had a combined experience level of 40 years in the organization. And you can maybe technically hire a replacement, but how do you replace that knowledge they have of all the business and applications here?”
But employees may not always tell employers when they’re thinking of leaving. That’s why KPMG offers an anonymous Career Development and Coaching (CDC) service. Any interested corporation is given brochures about KPMG’s service to distribute to its employees. Those considering leaving are encouraged to get career counselling from KPMG before making any choices. KPMG works on behalf of the employees to help them find the right career path, and the worker’s current employer is charged $2,500 for every employee that uses the service. The names of the employees aren’t disclosed to the employer.
KPMG works with the employee in a six-hour personalized career consulting session designed to flesh out a career mission statement. At the end of the session, employees may find their current jobs and company is not for them. But even if only one out of every 10 employees that use KPMG’s service decides to stay, then it is valuable to an employer, according to Herties, because the cost of replacing an effective employee is very high.
“Sometimes employees will realize that [they can get] what they’re looking for in the current company and it’s a matter of perhaps developing a more focused career plan and of articulating those needs to the employer,” Herties said.